Review – Mint Festival 2016

To receive a backstage pass for Mint Festival left me feeling little less than ecstatic. To see Loco Dice, Ms Dynamite, Patrick Topping and many more for free, and even have the chance to meet and talk to them, was incredible.

However, this isn’t a review of Mint Fest, but rather a review of its queue, which I spent a whole three hours in, significantly more than the ten minutes I spent on the other side of the barrier.

Anyone with any knowledge of nightlife culture is aware of what a guest list is. For those who’ve been living under a rock, it qualifies you for entry to an event without pay nor queueing. Perhaps someone should illuminate this to the production team behind Mint Festival, as they failed to fulfil either of those requirements. Upon reaching the entrance to the festival, those with guest list were diverted to a near static queue, which after 45 minutes opened up to a complete halt. Those who had bought tickets got from queue to stage in a maximum of thirty minutes, whilst those with guest list waited for upwards of three hours. There was no light at the end of the tunnel, those with guest list were made to pay a ‘£10 compulsory charity donation’ to a cause left blank. Those who didn’t have the £10 to pay were denied entry.

The festival itself was just as poorly organised. Tickets were hugely oversold and bottlenecks in the crowd were frequent. The acts themselves weren’t even worth seeing as movement and personal space was stifled to such a degree. It made Highrise look like a playing field, and those inside made their feelings heard.

As someone who had received a press pass, this disaster of an event wasn’t particularly painful for me, but for those who had sold tickets or worked on site to get guestlist, as well as DJs supposed to be performing but were stuck queuing, it was incredibly unfair. They were fundamentally undersold by a company who clearly care a lot more about profit than their clients – Mint Festival, an administrative disaster.

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Despite the copious amounts of queuing that impacted everyone’s experience at Mint Fest last weekend, there are still some positives that can be taken away from what has been described as “the worst day festival ever” on various forms of social media. The production master class that was evident at System and Elrow’s psychedelic circus were aspects to be remembered, but nothing can hide the poor organization and horrendous venue layout.

Leading up to the festivals 5th anniversary, Mint hosted an ‘Alternative Otley Run’ featuring Geordie producer Patrick Topping, who played at a number of venues throughout Leeds. Rave-ready students flocked from Headingley and Hyde Park to witness hour-long sets in a barbershop, a pub and a fancy dress shop car park to see the talented DJ spin the decks. The Otley Run culminated at a packed out Mint Club and the event’s success increased excitement for Mint Fest the following weekend.

Like his sets last Monday on the Otley Run, Topping infused the very best of contemporary house and techno music, perfectly accompanied with the hallucinogenic shenanigans in the Elrow tent where he was playing. Topping also dropped Solardo’s huge summer hit of ‘Tribesmen’, soon to be released on Hot Creations, which was the track of the day.

Mint’s productive effort was evident at System and provided tough competition for Elrow’s decorative spectacle. A huge holographic display was showcased on a block of offices facing the decks, with shipping containers placed along the sides of the arena. This was supplemented with a brilliant light and smoke show, which created laser like waves over the audience. Aesthetically System was incredible, but Adam Beyer’s set was somewhat disappointing.

Unfortunately, as a day festival venue The Tetley didn’t suffice and resulted in the Mint brand taking a big hit which will be hard to come back from. There’s no denying that Mint events will continue to be popular in Leeds, but Mint Fest’s 5th anniversary may be its last.

James Bate

(Images courtesy of

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